BERKELEY, CALIF.: Aurora Theatre Company has announced that artistic director Tom Ross will step down in July 2019. Ross joined the theatre in 1992 as general manager, and later served as both managing director and producing director before his 2004 appointment as artistic director. A search committee is being formed to select a new leader.
“Tom is so much of who Aurora is and has been,” said managing director Julie Saltzman Kellner in a statement. “He’s set the tone for the values of the organization: fairness, honesty, intelligence, and creativity. I’ll miss working with him every day, but I know that he’ll have left a permanent mark on the company, and we’re all the better for it.”
During his tenure at Aurora, Ross championed new plays and playwrights with the company’s Global Age Project and Originate + Generate program. He oversaw the company’s move from the Berkeley City Club to its current location in 2001, leading a $2.5 million capital campaign for the project. He also oversaw the opening of the company’s second performance space in 2009. To date, he has directed 30 productions at the theatre including world premieres and Bay Area premieres. He wrote and directed the long-running A Karen Carpenter Christmas, which played in both San Francisco and Seattle. He served as the producer of San Francisco’s legendary Solo Mio Festival for eight years.
Prior to moving to the Bay Area, he worked at the Public Theater in New York City as executive assistant to Joseph Papp, and co-director of play and musical development. While at the Public, he wrote the book adaptation for the Joe Orton/Todd Rundgren musical Up Against It! and collaborated on projects with artists including Larry Kramer, Kathy and Mo, Malcolm McLaren, and Jonathan Larson. He was also a site reporter for the National Endowment for the Arts for 16 years.
“Aurora has absolutely been one of the great joys of my life,” said Ross in a statement. “I am proud of all of the work we have done since its very humble beginning—the hundreds of artists we have hired, the great productions we have produced. But I believe it’s now time for a change. New leadership and ideas injected into the company can raise our accomplishments to an even higher level. And I believe that I’m ready to go back out into the world: freelance direct at other theatres, write and produce my own shows like I used to do, teach, get back to painting, and hang out in rooms with windows and sunshine.”